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411 Fact or Fiction Comics: Is Revealing Joker’s Identity in Rebirth a Bad Idea?

April 18, 2016 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
The Joker Death Of the Family

Hello folks, and welcome to the another edition of 411 Comics Fact or Fiction! We took a few weeks off but we’re back and have brought two of 411’s best experts on comic books stepping up this week as movies and MMA guru Jeffrey Harris goes head-to-head with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reviewer and MMA Fact or Fiction host Wyatt Beougher! Without further ado, let’s get to it!

1.) Revealing the Joker’s identity in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is a bad idea.

Jeffrey Harris – FICTION: Revealing The Joker’s identity is not really a radical idea. Keep in mind, one of the most beloved versions of The Joker from the Timm and Dini-verse had his identity revealed in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. He was revealed as a mid-level mobster and hitman, and he murdered Andrea Beaumont’s father. We knew his identity in the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie, where he was the mobster Jack Napier. That’s still heralded as a classic performance and interpretation of The Joker by fans. Even if The Killing Joke is just one possible backstory for The Joker, it’s still a classic story that possibly peels back the layers of the character and provides a potential backstory. My point is this. Revealing The Joker’s identity in and of itself is not a bad idea. It’s basically been done before. There’s precedence for it. In the end, I sincerely doubt this will be the definitive answer to The Joker’s identity. Things like this get retconned all the time, and they could change the origin as they see fit. Just like how there was a time where Batman did kill people and used guns, but that changed over time as well.

Wyatt Beougher – FICTION: C’mon, this is DC – if it’s poorly received, it’ll just be retconned again in a year or two. That said, while Johns did specifically mention the scene where Batgod found out the Joker’s real name, he didn’t specify that he would actually be revealing the identity, just that he’d be revealing “a secret”. But let’s assume he does let that particular cat out of that particular bag – I can’t see how it’s going to negatively affect the character or the DC Universe. After years of build-up, we finally learned Logan’s real name and history, and it hasn’t significantly changed anything. Now, if a lot of the online speculation is correct and Joker is actually a Wayne, then I think that is a terrible idea, but otherwise, I think it’s probably going to be fairly anticlimactic, and that’s not enough for me to actually believe it’s bad.

2.) Marvel’s Death of X crossover will not change the X-Men lines signficantly.

Jeffrey Harris – FICTION: I’m going to say fiction because Marvel has not been above changing the X-Men titles constantly over the last 10-15 years. When Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely came onto the books, the stories became a lot darker. The X-Men all got new uniforms like The Matrix and the X-Men movies. Then suddenly the X-Men-verse got filled up with more random and weirder mutant characters. Then after Morrison went back to DC Comics, a lot of what Morrison did with the X-Men was undone. A lot changed. Wolverine even became head of the Xavier Institute for a while. The human race going extinct to get replaced by mutants was basically undone by House of M and mutants became an endangered species. Then Cyclops became a sociopath and they did X-Men vs. Avengers. So things will change and then maybe contract back. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see significant changes for a while. Remember the XSE?

Wyatt Beougher – FACT: Again, this is just a potentially random solicitation that may not even have anything to do with the X-Men (though I don’t think the X looks all that much like the one from Earth X, which was the other rumor that I read). Even if it does, over the past decade or so, they’ve lost their mentor, lost their long-time field leader (who apparently made them feared and hated again), had a cap put on the number of mutants that existed in the universe, been pulled into roughly 5000 alternate dimensions, and now they’re dealing with a fatal sickness caused by Black Bolt’s Terrigen Bomb. While the title would certainly suggest an endgame to the Terrigen Bomb storyline that is wiping out the mutant population wholesale (and which conspiracy theorists believe to be proof that Marvel is spiting Fox, who own the film rights to the X-Men and all associated mutants), I can’t help but think Marvel isn’t that crazy. Sure, they’ve split the Fantastic Four to the four winds with Reed and Sue both possibly dead; however, the X-Men aren’t the Fantastic Four, and the mutants are too popular for Marvel to kill them off completely.

3.) You’re intrigued by the concept behind Heavy Metal’s Nirvana-inspired time travel comic Skip to the End.

Jeffrey Harris – FICTION: I honestly can’t say I am. Nirvana was never a band I was passionately interested in back in the 1990s. Besides that, I’m not really big into Heavy Metal comics or the like. It sounds like a good idea for people who are fans of more mature reader type stories, but it doesn’t intrigue me to say the least.

Wyatt Beougher – FICTION: It certainly sounds like a fun idea – taking a real-live rock band with a tragic ending and interjecting a time-travelling guitar – but I honestly can’t say that it appeals to me all that much. Granted, this is a fictionalized version of the band with some real life events thrown in, but it still seems a little more morbid than I am really comfortable with, especially with the creative team not contacting Cobain’s daughter, Krist Novocelic, or Dave Grohl (and yes, I purposely left Cobain’s widow out of it, because fuck Courtney Love, that’s why). If it is well-received and people aren’t voicing dissatisfaction with my particular concern, then I’ll probably check it out, but at the moment, I’m going to pass on this one.

SWITCH!

4.) Lois Lane as Superwoman is an idea you can get behind.

Wyatt Beougher – FACT: Sure, why not? Lois has been Superwoman before, though that was the Lois that somehow made it from pre-New 52 to New 52 and is now going by Lois White. (*shudder* DC’s continuity is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?) ANYWAY, I’m cool with lois as Superwoman, though I’m decidedly not cool with Superman’s powers killing her. Yes, they’ve supposedly killed the New 52 Superman, but taking a female supporting character/sometime love interest, giving her the main character’s powers, and then having her slowly dying, at least in part because of those powers? That sounds vaguely familiar, almost like Marvel did it with Jane Foster and Thor back in late 2014. I still think Lois-as-Superwoman has some decent storyline potential, but hopefully Kong, the Asian “New Super-Man” also has to deal with the potentially fatal drawback of inheriting the mantle of Superman so that it silences some of the criticisms/comparisons to Jane Foster as Thor.

Jeffrey Harris – FICTION:. I’ve just never really identified Lois Lane as a superhero. I’m not saying they can’t or shouldn’t make her into Superwoman, but those types of heroes hold no sort of interest to me at all. My favorite version of Lois Lane is the intrepid, fearless reporter who will stop at nothing at getting her story and reporting the truth. My point is this, Lois Lane to me is already a hero. Not everyone needs super-powers, a cape and a costume to be a hero. Lois Lane is that type of character to me.

5.) A new Jessica Jones series won’t be able to measure up to Alias.

Wyatt Beougher – FICTION: Bendis is writing it, and it’s still a character that he clearly has a lot of emotional investment in, plus it sounds like he and Marvel are waiting for Alias‘ art team to be freed up to return, so I don’t see any reason why a Jessica Jones series wouldn’t live up to Alias. It’s not like the Netflix series was tonally neutered compared to Alias, so I don’t imagine that will be a huge consideration, and realistically, having editorial edicts restricting the content to something more television-friendly (like Agents of SHIELD, which airs on a major network in primetime) would be the only reason I would think a new series couldn’t live up to the original. Sure, it’s been over a decade since Alias has ended, and Bendis has lost some of the shine that he had back then, but he’s still a damned good comic writer, so I’m not too worried about this one.

Jeffrey Harris – FICTION:. Honestly, I have no reason to believe it can’t. Obviously, hype and expectations will be bigger because of the original run of Alias. So that will be tough to surpass. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible either. Bendis is returning to tackle the story, and he wants David Mack and Michael Gaydos back on board for pencils. That sounds good to me. Alias is one story where I believe Bendis’ more wordy style works very well. I think it’s a book he is tailor made for and going back to, and I think he has a better handle on characters like Jessica Jones and Alias then he does for most of his superhero books.

6.) You’re a fan of Superman’s new Rebirth look.

Wyatt Beougher – FICTION: Y’know what, this is probably an unpopular opinion, but I am. The red underwear and boots always struck me as being kinda silly, no matter how iconic they were. And while I wish the blue on this suit were lighter than in the “leaked” turnaround, from the Tweets DC has revealed soliciting Rebirth issues of Action Comics, Superman, Super-Sons, Trinity, and Justice League, it looks like it’ll be closer to Big Blue’s traditional blue, so I can’t complain about that too much. In one of those Tweets (which you can see: here), we get a pretty good look at the new suit in action, and the changes to the boots actually look pretty good. I’m sure people will complain that it makes his suit look too much like footie pajamas, but personally? I think it’s looks pretty cool.

Jeffrey Harris – FACT:. On a personal level, I don’t hate the design. I don’t highly dislike it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of the outfit either. It’s not a big departure from the New 52 design. I do like the S-logo on the back of the cape, and I dislike when that detail gets left out, just as I feel that Spider-Man should have the spider design on the back of his costume. However, other than that, there’s nothing particularly awesome about it to me. My favorite attempts at Superman redesign costumes, at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, are the black Kryptonian recovery suit and the electric Superman blue costume.

Bonus Question: What unannounced DC Extended Universe film would you like to see made?

Wyatt Beougher – Does it have to be a film? Because I’d love to see a Lobo television series, with each episode featuring him taking on a different bounty. And I say that as someone who isn’t a particular fan of the character. In terms of films, though, with the darker tone the DCEU is taking, I’d love to see Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing adapted (because the two existing movies have not aged particularly well) or else Grant Morrison’s take on Animal Man. Hell, I’d love to see an Aztek film or for Resurrection Man to make the leap to the big screen.

Jeffrey HarrisDC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe. You know what? Why the heck not. Sony Pictures isn’t doing anything with the He-Man property right now. Now that Batman v Superman came out and the film failed to meet many expectations, it’s time to take things a step further. How, you may ask? He-Man vs. Superman! Let’s get the Masters of the Universe, the warrior protectors of Eternia in on the action in a story that combines He-Man, the Masters, Skeletor, the Justice League, and freaking badass Orko as the villain. If Superman fans aren’t angry enough already, let’s see how they react after He-Man whoops his big blue behind! I’ve always wanted to see a big budget movie with He-Man and the other Masters, and this might be the best way to do it.

That wraps up this the week’s Comics Fact or Fiction. Jeffrey and Wyatt went split the difference and went three for six; thanks to both of them for contributing! I hope your pull list gives you nothing but enjoyable reads; we’ll be back in a couple of weeks!